- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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Under the new four-team playoff format, there will be a total of six major bowls, two of which we already know about: the Champions Bowl (Big 12-SEC) and the Rose Bowl (Pac-12, Big Ten). The ACC is expected to announce its future bowl partner "in the very near future," according to commissioner John Swofford, but it's likely to remain with the Orange Bowl.
"We've got a great relationship with the Orange Bowl, and there's a lot of prestige in that game," Swofford said. "We'll probably have something on that in the very near future."
The bigger question is who the opponent will be.
Notre Dame gets my vote. It's time to scrap the Big East and partner up with the Irish. Matchups between FSU and Notre Dame, Miami and Notre Dame -- heck, even Boston College and Notre Dame -- have great history and tradition. So does the Orange Bowl. If Notre Dame doesn't qualify, the ACC should have the SEC and/or the Big Ten as backups. That would guarantee ACC fans an entertaining matchup every season.
As it turns out (I'm not one to say I told you so), the formation of the Champions Bowl was hardly the "death" of the ACC. This is an exciting time for the conference to re-evaluate its postseason partners, but the Orange Bowl makes the most sense for the league because of both its history and location.
Swofford told me on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., that the new playoff format will open up a few more options for the ACC in looking at its bowl partners for the future.
"We feel very good about the partners we now have, but that landscape will change some now, particularly with six bowls being in the system going forward," he said. "Where those bowls come from, they'll be assigned teams that are generally ranked in the top 12 or so. That will change the landscape, particularly for the bowls that were just below the current BCS level. Some of the bowls will need to make some decisions from their perspective as to whether they want to bid to become an access bowl, or continue to have tie-ins with particular conferences. That remains to be seen."
3hTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney